With Ta Nehisi-Coates joining JJ Abrams on creating a new Superman movie for Warner Bros, The Hollywood Reporter was able to confirm that the project would feature a Black Superman. Now, this is not new for the comic books. Through a variety of Elseworlds, parallel dimensions and sidekicks, there have been black Supermen before. Most of them were created by Grant Morrison and his former sidekick Mark Millar. And eBay is exploding with a few of them as a result.
Final Crisis #7 featured the first appearance of Calvin Ellis, created by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke, who in his own world is a black Superman President Of The United States. Final Crisis #7 CGC 9.8 has sold for $600, or $157 raw, a comic that was selling for $3 a week ago. Action Comics #9, which features the character on the cover, has sold CGC 9.8 at $200 or $99 raw.
He will also be popping up in this week's Infinite Frontier #0 from DC Comics which is good timing.
While Val-Zod is the Superman of Earth-2, created by Tom Taylor, Nicola Scott and Robson Rocha. His first cameo appearance in Earth 2 #19 has sold for $200 CGC 9.8 and $30 raw. His full appearance (and on the cover) in Earth 2 #25 has sold CGC 9.8 for $200 or $25 raw.
A third candidate is Tangent Superman, the Superman of another dimension, originally a human man named Harvey Dent. Created by Jupiter's Legacy's Mark Millar and Jackson Guice. He became dark and vengeful, taking over the world, not allowing any freedom of thought. Tangent: Superman #1 is selling for around $2 if you're lucky.
There is also Marv Wolfman and Paul Ryan's Superman of Earth D from Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths, where both Superman and Supergirl are Black.
And, well, this Superman died. Not that this means much these days. And copies have been selling for around $20 on eBay in recent days.
And then there was Grant Morrison's first attempt with Chas Doug in Animal Man #23, for the Silver Age pastiche character Sunshine Superman – along with others.
That has just sold for… three bucks. And as for black Kryptonians, there is also the famous misstep. When DC Comics decided to get a bit more aware of racial concerns in the 70s, they wanted to explain why no one had seen a black Kryptonian. And so concocted a tale of an isolated island called Valtho Island on Krypton where all the Kryptonians lived. Yeah. So most folk tried to ignore it.
An offhand reference to the island was made in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' continuity-rich dream Superman story For the Man Who Has Everything, in Superman Annual #11, regarding "racial trouble with the Vathlo Island immigrants." Currently $195 CGC 9.8 and $45 raw.
A black Kryptonian named Iph-Ro of Vathlo appeared in Superman: The Man of Steel #111 (less than $3). Of late, DC has just shown black integrated Kyrptonians along with the rest of the world who resemble humanity. And Calvin Ellis, President Superman was said to originate from Vathlo Island of his reality's Krypton.
But I was also reminded of something Marlon Brando once said when approached to work on the original Superman: The Movie. Richard Donner recalled;
Brando lived in L.A. and I had to go and meet him. I called Jay Kanter, who was a very powerful agent and studio executive, and I said, "Can you give me any hints?" And he said, "He's going to want to play it like a green suitcase." I said, "What does that mean?" "It means he hates to work and he loves money, so if he can talk you into the fact that the people on Krypton look like green suitcases and you only photograph green suitcases, he'll get paid just to do the voiceover. That's the way his mind works." I said, "F—," and then I called Francis Coppola. He said, "He's brilliant. He's got a brilliant mind. But he loves to talk. Keep him talking, and he'll talk himself out of any problem."
And then on meeting Brando.
He said, "Why don't I play this like a bagel?" I was ready for him to say "a green suitcase" and he said "bagel." He said, "How do we know what the people on Krypton looked like?" He had good logic. He said, "Maybe they looked like bagels up there in those days?" I said, "Jeez, Marlon, let me tell you something." He'd just told us the story about a kid [and how smart he was] and I said, "It's 1939. There isn't a kid in the world that doesn't know what Jor-El looks like, and he looks like Marlon Brando." And he looked at me and smiled [and said], "I talk too much, don't I?" He said, "OK. Show me the wardrobe."
So why does Superman look like humans anyway? At DC Comics, there's a theory that Thanagarians and Kryptonians were descended from spacefaring Atlanteans. In Elliot S! Maggin's novelisation of Superman: The Man of Steel, there is the suggestion that the people of Earth, Krypton, and others are descended from a common ancient race.
But DC Comics already published another comic with a "black Superman" archetype, Icon, part of the Milestone line. He's an alien who originally looked very different from humans, but his escape pod that landed on Earth programmed to shapeshift him to look like the first sentient being that encountered him. The pod happened to land in the American South in 1839.
Could the new movie steal a little of Icon for their new icon? What if Kryptonians look like bagels or green suitcases? What if Superbaby's chosen form is that of the person who finds them? What if it's not Jonathan and Martha Kent but someone else?
The mother's name has to remain Martha, though, obviously. You can't mess with that.